Fishing means being surrounded by whispering riffles, wide open prairie fields, brooding mountain ranges and deep thick woods. Most of all, it means streams rent through tortuous canyons, wide rivers, lakes sounded only by the lonely loon, oceans speaking soft and low as their waves trot a slow journey around the world.

Bullshit.

Fishing is a lot of things to a lot of people, but one thing it’s not is easily defined. Excluded from the latest definition, whose authors subscribed a little too obsessively to A River Runs Through It, is “ugly” fishing: the lines dropped from rocky piers, the lures twanged off bridge abutments, picking through the empty parking lot out behind Sears to get to the water. Modernity hasn’t left fisherman many beautiful spots, but damn if that’s gonna stop us. Water means fish, plain and simple. This is the “fuck it, I’ll fish anyway” spirit of urban fishing, and it’s high time you joined in.

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Many cities around the U.S. have reinvigorated their waterways and fisheries with aggressive new environmental protection statutes and strict rules against overfishing, but most people have been slow to recognize the beauties on the beaten path. In fact, today some of the best angling in the world sits under the noses of hundreds of thousands — some, under the schnozzes of millions.

So leave your sentimentality at the door. You can still fish however you want to — fly rod or spinning reel, with a black and mild lit to keep the bugs away like Grandpa did, or with Beethoven’s Third roaring in your head. These eight cities prove that you can get away within the city limits, and that some of the best fishing in the country doesn’t depend on a distant locale.

Additional contribution by Andrew Connor, Casey Johnson, Chris Wright, Spencer Johnson, Ed Estlow and Travis Smith.

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